Bodström Chooses USA Over Parliament

Since Thomas Bodström hopped into politics in 2000 - becoming a member of the Social Democrats just the same day he was appointed Minister for Justice - he has been the party's most colorful member. A former professional footballer and the son of a former Foreign Affairs Minister, he has a recognizable name.

But having been denied an official leave of absence from his Parliamentary duties, Bodström announced that he give up his seat to stay in Massachussetts with his family fulfilling a long-held dream of living in the States, reports daily tabloid Aftonbladet.

Bodström was quoted in Aftonbladet as saying, "I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't do this for my children."

Bodström has been criticized for his extra-Parliamentary activities. Though he played an important role in this year's election, he moved his family to the States just six weeks ago during the height of it. During his Parliamentary career he has continued his side job as a lawyer, taken some trips to the USA, and had time to write three detective stories – all of which may have contributed to his absence from Parliamentary votes. Newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that he attended just 53 percent of the votes in the Spring of 2009.

What does it mean for Sweden's biggest party the Social Democrats? In a political analysis Svenska Dagbladet said it was difficult to say. But he is one of the only members, says the paper, who has star status. And after the less popular Mona Sahlin ran what the Swedish media calls a catastrophic election campaign for the Social Democrats, Bodströms political hiatus might mean he is less of a likely option for her replacement. One more tick against the Social Democrats, who long dominated Swedish politics, but more recently seem to be hemmoraghing voters to other parties.

And though Bodström says he still wants to play a part in politics when returns to Sweden next year, he won't be able to help his party in Parliament. And the loss of a charismatic, well-known party member could be a blow for the Social Democrats as they prepare to play opposition politics in Swedish Parliament.

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